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Frankfurt, Germany - Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747 are likely to become the first aircraft casualties of the ongoing global crisis as the airline industry continues to shrink by the worldwide lockdown.

Airlines are expected to switch to flying fewer, smaller aircraft – with the infection said to have accelerated the demise of the world's largest passenger planes. These are the relatively new Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747-400 of which airlines, including Lufthansa, already scrapping.

We probably will never see a passenger 747 flying again, and see only A380s of Emirates in the near future.

Lufthansa expects that it will take several months for travel restrictions to be completely lifted and years until the global demand returns to pre-crisis levels. There are currently 110 Airbus A380 in service while 356 Boeing 747 jets are still active.

Both the A380 and B747 were among the first to be grounded this year as demand fell. Airlines have grounded their planes and furloughed thousands of workers as countries close their borders and resorts shut down for an indefinite period.

Many are predicting short-haul carriers could soon offer rock-bottom prices to start generating revenues and force down competitors' prices across the industry. EasyJet has said it expects to leave middle seats on planes empty as a short-term measure to enforce social distancing and gives customers more confidence.

"We will clearly look to have the middle seat empty as we start. I think that is actually what the customers would like to see," 

easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said.

British Airways A380s stored in Châteauroux, France
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary has brushed off forecasts of a sluggish recovery, saying he expected a swift traffic rebound fuelled by massive price-dumping in a race to win back passengers. Low-cost airlines have been criticized for their tin-eared response to the crisis by offering vouchers rather than refunds to customers on canceled flights, in a desperate attempt to save cash.

Larger airlines have also announced measures to build confidence in customers that are fear of infection from cramped cabin space, with Emirates are trialling a rapid blood test, where the results are available in 10 minutes, on all passengers on one flight from Dubai to Tunisia this week.

Global traffic is now down 80 percent, quashing recent forecasts that the number of airline passengers would double within 20 years. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said passenger revenues will plunge by about 55 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic.

 "We are not expecting to restart the same industry that we closed a few weeks ago,"

Alexandre de Juniac, head of IATA said.

In late March, the IATA, which represents 290 carriers, forecast that half of the world's airlines would run out of cash within two to three months.
It urged governments to support airlines, either by nationalizing them or injecting fresh capital, waiving or delaying charges including taxes, or providing loan guarantees.

EasyJet said it could survive a nine-month shutdown thanks to its measures to contend with the coronavirus crisis and is planning for a slow recovery. The company will start to shrink its fleet and the number of planes it operates will not reach pre-crisis levels until 2022, signaling that it does not expect a quick recovery for the industry.
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